7 Tips to Help You Protect Your Identity
It’s more than a little disconcerting when you’re checking your credit card transactions and see a purchase or two there that you know you didn’t make.
This is what happens when your identity and other personal information has become compromised by fraudsters.
To help protect your personal data, we’ve compiled the following list of handy tips:
1. Follow best practices when managing your accounts online.
2. Be wary of calls from unknown numbers or people.
Scammers often present unsolicited requests for purchase verification, as someone at the IRS or other government organization, a sudden beneficiary of a large lump sum of cash, or as a seller of a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Invariably, their script involves pressure and scare tactics—an especially popular one is something along the lines of “in order to get this deal you must do this right now. It won’t be available after I hang up.”
Alternately, to scare you, they might threaten that your personal financial information has already been compromised. Don’t hesitate to hang up and call or visit your local First Bank branch during business hours. We’re happy to help you verify any and all transactions on your accounts.
3. Register on the national “Do Not Call List” to stem the tide of telemarketers.
Note: the Do Not Call List does not apply to businesses with which you have open accounts (like your bank or credit card company).
4. Don’t open emails or click on links from unfamiliar sources.
Links are handy doors for viruses that can scan your computer for personal information or completely take it over and crash it.
Mitigate risk by installing reputable virus protection software.
5. Don’t give out personal information like your insurance, Medicare, credit card, bank account, PINs, passwords, or Social Security number over the phone or through email.
Keep in mind that Medicare does not pay for supplies, services, or drugs not recommended and prescribed by your physician. Call your local Medicare office (if you don’t know it, try 1-800-MEDICARE) or contact your insurance agency for questions or suspicious activity on those accounts.
6. Be wary of saying “yes.”
If you’re approached by someone you don’t know outside a store or restaurant, and they seem to have an urgent issue that only you (or your money) can help them with, take a moment to assess the situation before agreeing. Call the police to help, if needed, or report the stranger to the nearby store manager.
7. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Everyone likes a deal, but if a person stops by your home with an unbelievable repair or remodel deal, it could be a scam or a way for them to assess your home for a future robbery. Research every contractor you’re considering for home projects and don’t pay for services upfront.
The same goes for offers to refinance your home or other loans/debts. Read the fine print on the information you’re being offered. Talk with your local First Bank associate to make sure the offer is genuine and worth your investment.
Although you should remain vigilant, there is good news. Instances of identity theft and fraud are on the decline overall, according to an article from Fortune.com, and this is thanks in large part to consumers like you becoming more savvy about how, when, and where their information is shared or stored.
Other Handy Resources
Want to do more reading about fraud and identity theft prevention? Check out any one of these resources:
- FTC website for identity theft victims: identitytheft.gov
- National Council of Aging: ncoa.org
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: stopfraud.gov
- North Carolina Adult Protective Services: ncdhhs.gov
- Medicare & Medicaid Fraud Reporting Center: medicarefraudcenter.org
- Eldercare Protective Services: eldercare.gov